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Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project

Namib and Kalahari Desert, Namibia
from £845 (14 nights)

Ref: AV035

This is a unique opportunity for volunteers to visit the Namib Desert research sites in Southern and North-East Namibia:  Neuras Wildlife Estate, Kanaan Desert Retreat and Mangetti.  At these sites volunteers will monitor big cats, wild dogs, hyena and elephants, contributing to invaluable research that will help to mitigate human-wildlife conflict in Africa. Many of the big cats at the Naankuse Wildlife Sanctuary have been rescued, rehabilitated and released into these sites and given a second chance at living in the wild.   All volunteers  spend time at the Wildlife Sanctuary where they will work with the many orphaned or injured animals that have arrived seeking help and rehabilitation.

Who can join: 18 years and over
Accommodation: Volunteer rooms/walk-in style tents
Transfer time: approx. 45 minutes to Sanctuary
Pick up Point: Windhoek airport or Windhoek city
Meals: Meals included
Volunteer numbers: approx. 12 per site
Special Offer:
£50 off the project fee when booked in conjunction with one of the  Nambia Short Tours below: Dunes and Wildlife Experience - 6 Day
Etosha & Swakopmund Adventure - 4 Day
Swakopmund & Sossusvlei Experience - 4 Day
 
 

Duration & Fees

14 nights£845

Research Site 7 Nights/Sanctuary 7 Nights

14 nights£895

Research Site 14 Nights

16 nights£995

Research Site 14 Nights/Sanctuary 2 Nights

21 nights£1,165

Research Site 7 Nights/Sanctuary 14 Nights

21 nights£1,235

Research Site 14 Nights/Sanctuary 7 Nights

23 nights£1,385

Research Site 21 Nights/Sanctuary 2 Nights

28 nights£1,545

Research Site 14 Nights/Sanctuary 14 Nights

28 nights£1,545

Research Site 7 Nights/Sanctuary 21 Nights

28 nights£1,595

Research Site 21 Nights/Sanctuary 7 Nights

35 nights£1,835

Research Site 7 Nights/Sanctuary 28 Nights

42 nights£2,265

Research Site 7 Nights/Sanctuary 35 Nights

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Please note: The currency conversion is an estimate based on today's exchange rates and is to be used as a guide only. All payments to Amanzi Travel have to be made in Pounds Sterling (GBP)

Start Dates

Volunteers can join throughout the year.

There are set transfers from the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary to the project bases every Saturday morning throughout the year for Neuras and Kanaan (returning on Saturday) and every Wednesday for Mangetti (returning on a Wednesday and arriving back at the sanctuary at approx 7am on the Thursday morning)

This project involves spending some time at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary also and we ask you to arrive into Windhoek Airport on a Monday or Thursday for your inclusive transfers

Volunteer can join on other days but there will be an additional charge of £45 if you would like to do this.

Payment

£180 deposit at time of booking – balance payment of project fee due 12 weeks before departure

What's Included

  • A contribution to the project itself including funding for items such as building materials, food, animal medications, tracking equipment etc
  • Transfers to and from the Windhoek Airport or Windhoek city on a Monday or Thursday
  • Transfers to and from the research sites
  • Full orientation and support from the project managers
  • Accommodation and meals as detailed
  • Laundry

What's not included

  • Travel insurance to include cover for repatriation
  • Visas and flights
  • Personal items eg clothes, travel goods etc
  • Soft drinks, wines and spirits
  • Optional trips or trips undertaken other than in the planned itinerary

Volunteers will have the unique opportunity to visit these research sites in Southern and North East Namibia and they will be able to monitor the big cats, wild dogs, hyena and elephants in these areas of outstanding beauty, while contributing to invaluable research that will help to mitigate human-wildlife conflict in Namibia.  The three sites are:  Neuras Wildlife Estate, Kanaan Desert Retreat and Mangetti in north of Namibia

Neuras Wine and Wildlife Estate

Background

Neuras is a truly unique and beautiful research site and one of only three wineries in Namibia.  In the local Koikoi language Neuras means "place of abandoned water" and developed initially due to the presence of several crystal clear cold-water springs.  It is known as the "driest vineyard in the world" due to its desert location and the first wines were produced in 2001.  The income from the wine production supports the conservation work and volunteers will record information from game counts, from wildlife cameras, site exploration and GPS data from the big cats, many of which were rescued and rehabilitated at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary before being released in the area.  The estate is located in the Pro-Namib ecosystem, the northern section encompassing the majestic Naukluft Mountain range whilst the southern part is part of an extensive canyon complex with an underground cavy system.  Together with the five springs these environments provide very specialised ecosystems that are home to the wildlife that the Neuras team strive to protect and study.

Activities

Capture Mark Release
To better understand how wildlife live in such a challenging and demanding environment, monitoring techniques such as GPS satellite tracking are used, espeically for very secretive species such as the leopard.  GPS collars are an excellent way to gather information and volunteers will help researchers to identify areas of big cat activity such as cheetah marking trees for example.  When wildlife of interest is captured, they are immobilised on-site and fitted with GPS collars or VHF trackers for continuous monitoring.  Once they are released work continues via the computer, following information from the satellite to better study these magnificent big cats.

Radio Telemetry Tracking
Fitting the leopards and cheetah with GPS trackers enables researchers to follow their day-to-day movements but does not tell much about their breeding success, prey selection or health status.  Direct observation is required to study these successfully and the team will go into the field regularly to track the collared big cats and assess them directly.  They are located using radio telemetry and days in the field can be long and warm, with sometimes a lot of walking involved.  However the rewards of finding wildlife in the bush and collecting important information are unrivalled.

Game Counts
It is essential also to monitor the wildlife population density to assess the overall health of the ecosystem.  Volunteers will take part in regular game counts to assist with this monitoring.  Commonly observed animals include the Mountin Zebra, Kudu, Oryx, Springbox, Steenbok and Ostrich.

Camera Trapping
In order to assist in the identification stage motion-triggered camera traps are used.  These record data 24/7 every day of the year and as they are non-selective they capture information on all wildife that passes in front of them - carnivores, herbivores and birds.  This shows what is present and the level of activity, and is especially useful for animals that are entirely nocturnal.  The cameras are non-invasive and often record very interesting behaviour!  Volunteers will help to set up the cameras in the field - perhaps at water points, cheetah-marking trees, caves etc - maintain the with new batteries and memory cards as necessary and also go through the images to assess and record the data captured in this way. 

Sossusvlei Day Trip
Neuras is situated just over an hour away from the iconic red Sossusvlei Dunes.  There is an optional day trip for the volunteers at a nominal fee which gives a great opportunity to experience this stunning landscape. Sossusvlei is an absolute must-see in Namibia. 

Volunteers are also able to assist with many of the tasks in wine production, such as harvesting, bottling and labelling, all of which are done by hand.  This is extremely rewarding - even for non-wine drinkers - and is an example of how conversation can be supported through different approaches.

Kanaan Desert Retreat

Background

Kanaan is a newer research site and a true desert gem.  It was previously used as a film, photography and holiday destination but it is now aimed to establish an unfenced wildlife reserve which will provide refuge for many endangered species, based on scientific and sustainable management practices.  Kanaan is part of the Namib Sand Sea - with fantastic photographic opportuities including the iconic red sand dunes, vast open grass plains dotted with camel thorn trees as well as many antelope and towering mountain ranges.  Volunteers who want to become actively involved are who want to experience the desert first hand are particularly welcome and they will help to record wildlife information which will in turn contribute to the long-term management of the area.  The main species to be found are cheetah, brown hyena, spotted hyena, leopard as well as many other desert-adapted species.  As this is a brand new project, volunteers can really make an impact.

Kanaan borders the famous Namib-Naukluft Park and has also been home to the San Bushmen in the past.  It is hoped that it will again in the future be home to a traditional San settlement which volunteers may have the chance to visit to learn more about Namibia's rich cultural history.

Activities

Mapping
Good, accurate maps are essential for any activity and volunteers will join researchers and use a GPS unit to map anything from important wildlife observations to habitat features as well as roads, water holes, fences etc.  This information will then be made into up-to-date reserve maps which will aid future research activities.  This activity will involve spending quality time in this wonderful environment and a lot of the work will be done on foot to better understand the relevance of the data to the landscape scale.  Encounters with many different types of wildife are guaranteed!

Ancient San Skills
Nobody knows and understands this vast, dry, southern African landscape better than the San people.  Researchers have made good use of these skills in recent years and it is hoped that Kanaan will in the future be home to a traditional San settlement where volunteers will have the chance to experience their unique culture and see something of their lifestyle and skills.

Capture Mark Release
To better understand how wildlife live in such a challenging and demanding environment, monitoring techniques such as GPS satellite tracking are used, espeically for very secretive species such as the leopard.  GPS collars are an excellent way to gather information and volunteers will help researchers to identify areas of big cat activity such as cheetah marking trees for example.  When wildlife of interest is captured, they are immobilised on-site and fitted with GPS collars or VHF trackers for continuous monitoring.  Once they are released work continues via the computer, following information from the satellite to better study these magnificent big cats.

Radio Telemetry Tracking
Fitting the leopards and cheetah with GPS trackers enables researchers to follow their day-to-day movements but does not tell much about their breeding success, prey selection or health status.  Direct observation is required to study these successfully and the team will go into the field regularly to track the collared big cats and assess them directly.  They are located using radio telemetry and days in the field can be long and warm, with sometimes a lot of walking involved.  However the rewards of finding wildlife in the bush and collecting important information are unrivalled.

Game Counts
It is essential also to monitor the wildlife population density to assess the overall health of the ecosystem.  Volunteers will take part in regular game counts to assist with this monitoring.  Commonly observed animals include the Mountin Zebra, Kudu, Oryx, Springbox, Steenbok and Ostrich.

Camera Trapping
In order to assist in the identification stage motion-triggered camera traps are used.  These record data 24/7 every day of the year and as they are non-selective they capture information on all wildife that passes in front of them - carnivores, herbivores and birds.  This shows what is present and the level of activity, and is especially useful for animals that are entirely nocturnal.  The cameras are non-invasive and often record very interesting behaviour!  Volunteers will help to set up the cameras in the field - perhaps at water points, cheetah-marking trees, caves etc - maintain the with new batteries and memory cards as necessary and also go through the images to assess and record the data captured in this way. 

Cheetah Feed
Kanaan Desert Retreat is home to five rescued cheetahs from the Wildlife Sanctuary who are now the lucky residents of a 7 hectare enclosure on the red sand dunes of Kanaan.  Volunteers will be involved in food preparation, feeding and care of these cheetahs as well as enclosure cleaning on a regular basis.  Seeing these cheetahs up close in this stunning desert scenery is an opportunity not to be missed!

Maintenance and Security
In order for this ecosystem to function properly there are several maintenance activities that are necessary, especially in dry areas such as Kanaan.  As the project deals with endangered species, regular anti-poaching patrols are necessary as well as other security implementations.  Water holes need regular maintenance and need inspection for damage.  Volunteers will take part in all operational aspects of the farm and will get dirty from time to time.  It is hoped that everyone will contribute to the maintenance as their capabilities permit.

Other Activities
One of the must-do activities for any volunteer is the sun-downer drive to enjoy the tranquillity and scenery of the Namib when the sun sets and the desert is painted in unimaginable colours.  There will also be night drives and sleep outs as part of the security protocol, but these give chance to observe some of the nocturnal desert wildlife.  Volunteers may also be involved in water hole observations and because wildlife in the Namib is forced to drink regularly, the water holes are particularly good viewpoints.  On rest days volunteers can sit back and relax - and perhaps view the Namib night sky with its ever prominent Milky Way - another highlight not to be missed. 

Mangetti - Elephant and Wild Dog Conservation

Background

Since 2008 the sanctuary has worked tirelessly to engage Namibian landowners and livestock farmers on the topic which provides the greatest challenge to the conservation of endangered species:Human-Wildlife Conflict.

Theimpact of humana ctivities on native wildlife has never been more apparent than it is in
respect to two of Africa’s iconic species;the African Painted Dog (or wild dog) and the African Elephant both of which have endured decades of suffering through habitat fragmentation, hunting and persecution.

In a bid to alter this state of affairs,researchers have been working in the Mangetti Complex,northern Namibia, in an effort to understand better the levels,and causes,of conflict between these two species and the local population.

Volunteers will assist our researchers in documenting the movements andactivities of elephant and wilddog. Using GPS and VHF monitoring technology, motion-sensitive trail cameras and traditional spoor (footprint) tracking techniques, come and delve into the lives of the World’s largest land animal and one of Africa’s most endangered carnivore species. 

Environment

The Mangetti Complex comprises two main areas; the Kavango Cattle Ranch, a government farm conglomerate in the Kavango region of northern Namibia, and the nearby Mangetti National Park. In total the study area comprises more than 2,000 km2 of north-eastern Kalahari woodlands and mixed acacia savannah.The vegetation is thick and dense allowing even the largest species of wildlife to simply vanish before your very eyes.

Activities

Camera Trapping

The use of motion-sensitive trail cameras is an essential part of ecological wildlife monitoring. Non-invasive in nature, they capture and record vital images of the many and varied species inhabiting the environment. Working 24 hours a day,365 days a year,they are particularly useful for recording the presence, and densities, of difficult to observe  species such as the African wild dog allowing us to identify individuals from unique coat patterns, there by providing more accurate data for population estimates and levels of breeding success.

GPS Monitoring

Currently we are monitoring two adult elephant cows which were fitted with GPS satellite tracking collars in 2014. Every morning the information relayed by the collars via satellite must be downloaded in order to monitor the movements of the herd and identify any possible conflict and/or damage to infrastructure,which may have occurred.

We are also planning the next phase of African wild dog monitoring which will involve the capture of high-ranking pack members in order to fit GPS tracking collars for intense monitoring which will allow us to map rangesize, habitat use and potential conflict with surrounding landowners.

VHF Telemetry Tracking

Periodic tracking via the VHF transmitter beacon fitted in the GPS collars on the elephants will allow us to make detailed first-hand observations on exact herd structure and composition and build up a photographic ID guide to the individual animals.

Spoor (footprint) Tracking

Wildlife is just that; WILD! As such they rarely stand a round waiting to be observed and photographed. It is therefore important to perform detailed ground searches of areas in order to locate and identify the spoor(footprints/tracks) left behind by their passing. This is the first, and often most important, step in monitoring the activity and movements of focal study species in order to determine where further work must be carried out.

Conflict Assessment

Making detailed records of all occurrences of conflict, whether ‘perceived’ or actual’, is important in making clear plans for the conservation of endangered wildlife species such as elephant and African wild dog. It is only by understanding the underlying causes of persecution in response to conflict that a coherent and detailed plan can be created which will produce positive and measurable results in conservation.

This may take the form of recording and photographing specific conflict incidents such as damage to infrastructure by elephants or the predation of livestock by wilddogs.

Outreach 

Understanding the attitudes of local farmers and landowners towards species such as elephant and African wild dog is  essential to producing a clear plan of action for their conservation. Only by  actually getting out onto the farm land and talking to locals can we hope to find practicle solutions to the current conflict between humans and wildlife, the result of which is often the indiscriminate persecution of endangered species at the hands of angry locals.

Important Information for Everyone

Volunteers should be equipped to work under any weather conditions, including cold winters and long hours in the sun (please check prevailing weather conditions at your time of travel). The Mangetti is a high risk Malaria area from November to March and anti-malarial medication is strongly recommended Suitable insect repellents should also be brought. Except for emergencies, volunteers have no access to the internet. 

Naankuse Wildlife Sanctuary

Volunteers can choose between either Neuras or Kanaan release and research sites however everyone will spend some time at the Naankuse Wildlife Sanctuary also helping to care for an work hands on with the many animals including the big cats that have found a safe home there.   This is where many of the big cats that have been given a second chance at freedom in the wild have been rehabilitated and cared for.  Spending time at both the sanctuary and the release site is a fantastic opportunity to be involved in a truely unique experience of wildlife and big cat conservation in Namibia. 

To read more about the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary and the activities that you will do there please Click Here 

Blogs

ANNOUNCING A HAVEN OF HOPE
http://blog.amanzitravel.com/announcing-haven-hope

Free Time at the Sanctuary

During the time at the Wildlife Sanctuary, volunteers will have the evenings to relax from approximately 5.30pm, Saturday afternoons from around 4pm and Sundays all day. However, the animals still need to be fed on Sundays!

During the time on this project, volunteers may have the opportunity to enjoy a number of included activities such as: a nature walk across the sanctuary, climbing Neudamm mountain or an eco challenge competing in groups against fellow volunteers, followed by a braai (barbeque) and an overnight sleep out in the field, star gazing and waking up to a fantastic sunrise!

There is also a small swimming pool available for volunteers'  use, conveniently located by the volunteer accommodation and a lawn area on which to relax in the sun. Occasionally the volunteers play football against the San Bushman workers. There will be the opportunity for a small group of volunteers to head into Windhoek on Sundays to pick up some supplies, though this cannot be guaranteed.

Optional Excursions from the Sanctuary

Paintballing and abseiling may take place during the time at the sanctuary (approx £20-30).

Sunday transfer to Windhoek – where the mall can be visited and a leisurely lunch taken at the famous Jo’s Beerhouse. Please note that volunteers may be needed to look after animals on a Sunday from time to time.  (approx £16)

Staying at the guest lodge – why not treat yourself to a bit of luxury during your time on the project. You can book a 1 or 2 nights stay at the Lodge at a special volunteer rate, Here you can relax with a drink, take a swim in the pool and enjoy the tranquil and stunning surroundings. You can organise your stay once you reach the project (approx £50pppn)

Volunteer evening at the lodge where you can socialise, enjoy a drink at the bar and take in the stunning views across the African veld – occasionally this is offered as a volunteer buffet dinner and transfer (approx £13).

Sunday lunch at the lodge and spend the afternoon relaxing by the pool with a cool drink (approx £15)

A little bit of luxury?

Have you thought about treating yourself to a night or two of luxury at the end of your project? We can provide a perfect haven to unwind and indulge yourself before heading home. Take a look at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary Luxury Lodge to see if you're tempted.

Getting There

Flights should be arranged to arrive into Windhoek International Airport on either a Monday or Thursday where they will be met on arrival and transferred to the Wildlife Sanctuary (approximately 45 minutes) for the first part of their volunteer experience. Transfers to and from Neuras and Kanaan are on Saturdays and Mangetti on Wednesday and are included at each end of the placement.  Volunteers can arrive into Windhoek on a day other than a Monday or Thursday however this incurs an additional £45 charge. 

Amanzi Travel holds an ATOL licence and we can arrange any flight requirements that you have upon request.

A perfect way to explore more of Africa

Before heading straight back home, why not take an Overland Journey through Africa to explore more of the wonderful sights and experiences that this beautiful continent has to offer.  You can take a trip that starts and finishes in the same city (eg Windhoek to Windhoek) or you can use it as an opportunity to get your from one city to another (eg Cape Town to Nairobi).

“This has got to be the best way to see Africa in a short period of time ... brilliant. The guides were fantastic, the campsites great, and the food excellent. The overland trip was excellent - really well run”
Southern Sun 21 days, Cape Town to Victoria Falls - Jennie and Stuart, Sweden, aged 32 and 34.

“I didn’t know I could become such close friends with people in just a week. The trip attracts a great group of people who are so easy to get along with. My group ranged from 20 to 70 and we all sat down with a drink, played cards together and just gathered around the campfire.  It was an experience of a lifetime and I will definitely recommend this to my friends and family”
Tanzanian Game Parks and Zanzibar, 10 Days and Masai Mara Safari, 3 Days - Sara, Canada/Malaysia, aged 20.

 From 3 days to 56 days, take a look at the exciting Overland Trips here.

Support and Orientation

Support and advice is available from Amanzi Travel office staff and project/trip leaders. Upon booking, you will receive a comprehensive pre-departure pack that provides all the details you will need to prepare for your trip to Africa.  This document includes information on accommodation, staff, visas, optional activities, packing checklist and medical advice and if you have any questions that are not answered in the pack we are always on hand to help and advise. We will do all we can to ensure that you are well prepared and looking forward to your trip to Africa. You will also receive an in country orientation on arrival.

A 24 hours a day, 7 days a week emergency contact number is provided for everyone who travels with us.

Amanzi Travel holds an ATOL licence (9401) and is able to arrange your flights on request giving you financial protection for your flight and trip costs. We also offer advice on personal travel insurance for your trip.

Namib and Kalahari Desert, Namibia, Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project Namib and Kalahari Desert, Namibia, Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project Namib and Kalahari Desert, Namibia, Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project Namib and Kalahari Desert, Namibia, Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project Namib and Kalahari Desert, Namibia, Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project Namib and Kalahari Desert, Namibia, Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project Wildlife Sanctuary

The sanctuary offers comfortable and clean, shared accommodation in either rooms at the volunteer guesthouse or in large walk-in style twin tents with reception and bedroom area. Bedding is provided. There are generally three volunteers per room in the guesthouse (single sex) and two volunteers per room in the tent, so it may be possible to accommodate couples together if there is availability on the project on arrival in one of the twin tents. There are communal showers and toilets with hot water supplied by solar energy and power sockets in communal areas.

At Neuras

Volunteers stay in the new tented camp, located across from one of Neuras's natural springs. There are 6 raised twin tents, with 2 single beds and shared bathrooms.

The main lounge area has a swimming pool and a BBQ facility.

At Kanaan

Here volunteers will be accommodated in a beautifully renovated farm house with shared rooms and bathroom.  Depending on the season, tented accommodation may also be available.  The guesthouse has electricity but no cell phone reception. 

Once a week, one of the evening dinners will be a traditional Namibian braai (BBQ), and a Neuras favourite, a brick oven Pizza Night - delicious !

At Mangetti

Situated centrally in the Kavango Cattle Ranch sits the Mangetti village where the researcher(s) and volunteers are accommodated in one of the management houses. The house has electricity and running water ;the hot water is supplied through a wood-burning water boiler or ‘donkey’as it is commonly known.

In all locations, three balanced meals each day are provided.  Breakfast is standard with cereals and toast and coffee and tea are available.  Lunches may be sandwiches, burgers, quiche and salads and for Kanaan and Mangetti may be packed lunches for groups active in the field.  Dinners are hot meals with meat, vegetables, pasta, rice, potato or salad. 

Once a week on one of the evening dinners there is usually a traditional Namibian braai (BBQ), and a Neuras favourite, a brick oven Pizza Night - delicious!

Please note that due to the remote location some fresh produce may only be available seasonally.   Snacks and drinks should be purchased before arriving at the sites. At these sites volunteers may be invovled in the cooking and cleaning up for the evening meals.

Volunteers with special dietary needs should ensure they include these on their applicaiton form when booking or contact Amanzi Travel before you travel.

Click here to view the full interactive mapNamibia - Work At a Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary

Why visit Namibia?

Namibia is one of those dreamlike places that makes one question whether something so visually fabulous could actually exist. It is characterised by vast open spaces, with breathtaking scenery and great contrasts – ocean, dunes, mountains and deserts. A predominantly arid country, Namibia can be divided into four main regions. The Namib Desert and vast plains of the Skeleton Coast in the west; the eastward-sloping Central Plateau; the Kalahari desert along the borders with South Africa and Botswana; and the densely wooded bushveld of the Kavango and Caprivi regions – a magical undeveloped oasis of waterways and wildlife, providing abundant game and birdlife viewing opportunities.  Despite its harsh climate, Namibia has some of the world’s grandest national parks, ranging from the wildlife-rich Etosha National Park, to the dune fields and desert plains of the Namib-Naukluft Park. The Namib-Naukluft Park is superb for hiking, with a number of spectacular trails. It is also home to the renowned dunes of Sossusvlei - said to be the highest in the world - and the fascinating Sesriem Canyon. Windhoek is the country’s geographical heart and commercial nerve centre, with an ethnic mix of people, while surfers, anglers and beach-lovers won’t want to miss Swakopmund, with its lively entertainment and sporting activities.

Highlights

  • Etosha National Park is one of Africa’s finest parks, both in size and diversity of wildlife.
  • The Namib-Naukluft Park is the largest conservation area in Namibia and one of the largest in the world.
  • Two spectacular deserts - the Kalahari and Namib - each with distinctive wildlife and scenery.
  • The Namib, at 80 million years, is the world's oldest desert. Namib means “open space”.
  • The Namib and Damaraland offer remarkably clear skies for astronomers and keen star gazers.
  • Stunning Fish River Canyon is the second largest canyon in the world, after the Grand Canyon – it is 161km long, up to 27km wide and 550m deep.
  • Sossusvlei are said to be the highest sand-dunes in the world.
  • Superb birding and good fishing is available from the banks of the Kavango and Kunene Rivers on the northern border.
  • Popular self-drive destination with excellent infrastructure.
  • Largely malaria-free.
  • More than 300 days of sunshine per year.

Climate

Seasons Max Min
Summer/wet (October - April) 40 °C 20 °C
Winter/dry (May - September) 25 °C 0 °C
Rainfall: October – December “little rains”, January to April more stormy period

The winter months (May - September) range from 25 to 30°C during the day but night temperatures may drop to below freezing. June to August is the dry season with very little rain. This can be a good time for game viewing as wildlife converge at the waterholes.

The summer months (October - April) can reach highs of over 40°C and nights in the 20°C range (in the arid central Namib Desert temperatures can fall to below freezing during the night). This is a summer rainfall area, but overcast and rainy days are few and far between. Welcome thundershowers may occur in the late afternoon, bringing relief to flora and fauna. In October and November, large herds of blue wildebeest, zebra, springbok and oryx migrate from the Namutoni area to Okaukuejo, where they remain until May.

Rainfall is heaviest in the northeast, which enjoys a sub-tropical climate, and reaches over 600mm annually along the Okavango River. The northern and interior regions experience ‘little rains’ between October and December, while the main stormy period occurs from January to April.

Key Facts

Population – 2.1 million
Capital - Windhoek
Currency - Namibian dollar
Language – official language English; most widely spoken is Afrikaans; half of all Namibians speak Oshiwambo as their first language. German is also widely spoken, plus some Portuguese.
Namib – means “open space”
Etosha – means “great white place”
Time difference – GMT +2 hours
Telephone – country code 264, international access code 00

Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project

If any one wants to book a volunteer project I strongly recommend Amanzi travel. The service was excellent and i had an absolutely amazing trip to namibia. Thank you all at amanzi.

 

Angela, UK, aged 56 (Etosha and Swakopmund Adventure - 4 Days, Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project , Naankuse Wildlife Sanctuary)

Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project

I had the most amazing time at the sanctuary, loved every minute of it, even the freezing temperatures in the tent at night and sometimes the lack of power and water! The whole ethos of the place, the care of the animals and the hard working and very dedicated coordinators made it very special. The extra trips down to Neuras an Kannan were also fantastic, for a City girl I loved the desert, so empty but teeming with life.

I would definitely recommend the sanctuary to other people, and your efficiency and enthusiasm for the place really helped and made the booking and admin very easy.

Sarah, UK, aged 53 (Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project , Naankuse Wildlife Sanctuary)

Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project

I had a fabulous time at the Big Cat Release and Tracking Project in Namibia. Having the opportunity to work hands-on with the animals at the Wildlife Sanctuary and doing some conservation work at Neuras, it was the perfect fit for me. Everyone including staff and volunteers were a joy to work with. The weather was hot and the work was hard. But being one of the more "mature" volunteers I pushed myself to keep up, which made me feel good about what I had accomplished. Helping the animals!  It was an amazing experience. Never a dull moment!

Susan, aged 59. USA (Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project , Naankuse Wildlife Sanctuary)

Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project

Both parts of the overall experience were great, and gave me the chance to enjoy the spectacular landscapes, wildlife and also human life of the places I've been, while learning a lot about life in Namibia and South Africa straightaway. 

This way of travelling is probably not recommended for those who look for luxury or steady communication with their usual environment, although basic needs and safety are more than well provided. Actually, I would emphasise that fact as a highlight of the overall experience: it makes you realise what is important and what is dispensable, and allows you to focus all your attention and create a deep bond with the environment you're in and the people you're surrounded with.

The experience matched pretty good my previous expectations about the trip. The help and previous organization provided by Amanzi Travel before my departure, was really convenient in order to avoid unforeseen complications and/or difficulties during my stay in Africa, since facilities, network communications and life rhythm in general are much less easy in the area than in western countries, which gives less place for improvisation, especially if you don't know the ground. 

Besides that, it helped me to make possible, in a smooth and time-effective way, to realise two different experiences that I wanted to carry out in Africa, namely an Overland trip and a volunteer experience related to wildlife and big cats in particular. 

The NWS is of a great value for the local community and conservation of wildlife (particularly carnivores), since it encourages finding individuals of these species and their identification and new release in order to avoid conflict between these animals and farmers and human activity in general, which protects both from fatal encounters. At the same time, provides aid and good care of those individuals of many different species which, for different reasons, cannot be released into wildlife again - all of it enhancing and improving the life conditions of the local bushmen's community, with which mutual beneficial synergies are set up.

Albert, 27, Spain (Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project , Namibia South - 7 Days (Northbound))

cheetah

I spent two weeks volunteering in Namibia and wish I could have stayed longer. My friend and I decided to volunteer at the Namibia wildlife sanctuary.

The Amanzi team is extremely helpful and always answered my questions. I was nervous about traveling because I am a very inexperienced traveler. With Amanzi Travel’s help, my trip ran very smoothly. I arrived two days before the start of the project and stayed in Chameleon Backpackers which was also great. Chameleon Backpackers picked us up from the airport, then the NWS staff picked us up from Chameleon Backpackers which made transportation very easy.

Once at the project the staff and fellow volunteers were very welcoming. We stayed in the tents which were comfortable.(I would recommend bringing a sleeping bag if you are staying in the winter months, we used ours every night) There is a shower and bathroom about 15 feet from the tent that are usually shared with another tent, but we lucked out and did not have to share bathrooms with anyone. Our days consisted of breakfast, then a morning meeting, our activity, lunch, afternoon meeting, then our last activity. Every single day is different and plans our subject to change for working at a wildlife sanctuary is very unpredictable. No matter what your doing there, if you have a positive attitude you will have a great time. I never once felt like I was working, and enjoyed everything I got to do. After being there a week, we had the opportunity to go to Neuras, which is part of the Naankuse foundation. 

We weren’t sure if we were going to like it as much as the sanctuary because we wanted to do as much hands on with animals as possible, but we loved it here! Neuras is almost like the behinds the scenes of conservation, and even though your not hands on with animals, it is just as rewarding. We were able to track footprints, check trapped cages, and review camera traps. It was so exciting to see wild leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, baboons, and various antelope species on the camera trap. The staff at neuras, especially Matt and Kate are so friendly and inviting, and since there isn’t as many volunteers as the sanctuary, you feel like a little family. 

If you are considering going to the Namibia wildlife sanctuary, I strongly recommend spending at least a  week at Neuras, I promise you will love it!

Here are the top three highlights of my trip:

1. The cheetah walk. -- You have to pay extra for this $50 U.S dollars but is INCREDIBLE, I would have payed $500 because you get to walk with, pet, and sit with a tame cheetah. I will never forget that.

2. Solitaire--While at Neuras you will come here for a day. It is home to 6 cheetahs and we come here to feed them. You get to get off the truck and be 5 feet from these beautiful animals while you give them meat. It is so much fun and you get incredible pictures.

3. The wild dog Feed.- At Naankuse they have a pack of wild dogs and you get to join the staff and watch them feed. This was incredible to watch. I loved seeing the hierarchy in the pack and the group dynamics as they fed. This was so much fun to watch, just make sure you bring a fully charged camera and videocamera, you will need it.  

All in all, this was for sure the best time of my life. I can't wait to go back.

Julia, aged 22, USA (Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project , Naankuse Wildlife Sanctuary)

wildlife volunteer caracal

I had a fantastic time in Namibia and my experience there fulfilled all my expectations. It was just amazing helping with the animals and thoroughly enjoyed mucking in and getting dirty at the sanctuary. I thought Neuras was a fantastic place and very beautiful with amazing landscapes. It was great to be able to go to Sossusvlei, Solitaire and climb the Namib Naukluft Mountains. I found the staff very dedicated and were all great fun to work with.

Peter, aged 49, UK (Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project )

Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project

I had the most amazing time, and none of that would have been possible without all of your hard work organising everything. So I just want to say a big thank you! I greatly appreciate it, and it was nice not having to worry about anything while I was away - a number of people did have issues with transfers. So thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I will definitely be back to organise another volunteer project soon!

Everything was great. Whenever I had any questions they would be answered very promptly. Gemma was very friendly and professional. I've really had a great experience with Amanzi Travel and would recommend them to anyone.

My time at Neuras was wonderful. The accommodation was fantastic! - a nice little luxury from the wildlife sanctuary. It's a beautiful place. It was a lot of fun going on the game counts, making the enrichment for the cheetahs at Solitaire and climbing the dunes. There's so much natural beauty in Namibia :)

I really enjoyed my time at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary. The baboons are beautiful! Sleeping with a baby baboon was an awesome 'once in a lifetime' experience, which I will treasure forever. 

Organising my trip through Amanzi Travel was one of the best decisions of my travelling life. I was (and still am) very impressed and happy with all of the work Gemma did with organising not only my time at the volunteer projects, but also transfers to and from the airport and accommodation after leaving the project. There were no issues at all which was fantastic! I've got nothing but praise for all of the hard work Gemma, and the rest of the Amanzi Travel team do :) 

Fiona, Australia, aged 23 (Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project , Namibia Dunes and Wildlife Experience - 6 Days)

Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project

Right from day one from being picked up, i was made to feel welcome and an important part of the small team.  Kate and Matt are the perfect hosts, knowledgeable and enthusiastic.  The surroundings are perfect. The food is just the best and i was so pleased that i had split the weighting of the projects in this manner.  the research side of the project really appealed and i loved all of the exposure to the naukluft mountains and namib desert. Gaining knowledge in the field of tracking released leopards and cheetahs, game counting etc was excellent.  by staying longer i was lucky enough to experience a wide array of the project actvity and its value to the conservation of these magnificent creatures.

Surrounded by stunning landscapes, working with lively, enthusastic, fun guides who are just the perfect hosts, i have had the pleasure of enjoying a totally amazing 3 weeks at the Neuras research/release project. I would highly recommend people to stay for as long as possible for the experence of a lifetime in conserving these magnificent animals.  

Andrew, UK, aged 39 (Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project )

Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project

It was the most fabulous holiday we have been on.  Stroking cheetahs, walking through the bush with a baboon on each shoulder, walking with a caracal, feeding the animals, having a baby baboon in your bed all night, meerkats, a baboon and a warthog sharing your lunch - the list just goes on.  Working with the most professional team on projects, whether being in an enclosure with cheetahs and distracting one with meat scraps whilst Stu persuaded the other to make footprints in sand for measuring or being with Rudi and Flo whilst they darted and collared a very wild leopard….Unbelievable .  It will be in the forefront of our memories for ever.  If anyone really wants to get close up to wild animals and doesn't mind getting their hands dirty, then this will be the experience of their life.   An unbelievable experience that should be taken by everyone who really loves wildlife

Brian, UK, aged 65 (Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project , Naankuse Wildlife Sanctuary)

Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project

Thank you Gemma! I had a truly amazing time, one that I will never forget!  I was really happy with both of the places I was at and will recommend them through Amanzi Travel to my friends if they ever want to do a similar kind of trip.  Thank you so much again for all your support and guidance that helped make my trip fantastic and unforgettable!

I had a fantastic time at Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary and experienced the 'real' Africa. If you are like me and want hands on experience with wildlife conservation then this Sanctuary is for you - they truly enforce the conservation and rehabilitation of these endangered animals and I never for a moment felt that the animals weren't benefitting from our help.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Noah's Ark Wildlife Sanctuary and met some wonderful people along the way. The animal interaction that one was able to have with such amazing creatures is out of this world and something I will never forget. 

The animals and activities are fantastic and I feel my hands on experience with animals has grown enormously. I highly recommend both of these projects to anyone whose best interest is in the animal's welfare and doesn't mind getting their hands dirty and live away from the 'luxury lifestyle'. You will have the time of your life!

The service provided by Amanzi Travel was excellent and I always felt my trip was in good hands. If I ever had any concerns, I knew I could ask in confidence and always have a constructive and prompt response.

Grace, aged 19, UK (Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project , Noahs Ark Wildlife Sanctuary, Naankuse Wildlife Sanctuary)

Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project

After 2 weeks having a wonderful time at The Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary I was very excited about joining a group to travel to Namibrand and the Neuras Vineyard for the cheetah and leopard reseach project. This involved tracking released collared leopard and cheetah and also exploring the new Neuras farm for ideal spots to set camera traps to get an idea of the wildlife currently on the huge area of Neuras land.

The accommodation at Neuras was outstanding lodge quality and the hospitality of the managers Davy and Christa superb with home baked bread everyday and delicious meals. We had numerous braii and sampled the unique Neuras Namib red wine which was exquisite.

The scenery was absolutely spectacular in the Namibrand and we enjoyed hiking up many hills to find VHF signals on the released leopard and cheetah which gave us an even better view. This is virgin untouched country that everybody should experience!We lots lots of different game on both Neuras and Namibrand. I also definitely came back fitter than when left. Stu our research co-ordinator was great fun to be with and was very knowledgeable about all the wildlife there. Our group of Auvre, Lucy and Anouk were the best company ever and I have now made some new friends for life….thankyou for such a rewarding great experience!

Tracy, Australia, aged 54 (Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project )

Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project

Initially booked for 3 weeks at The Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary, I decided spontaneously to join a spot which had become available at the Namibrand Research Project taking place both in Neuras and NamibRand Reserve. The best decision ever…! From the moment we arrived in Neuras, I knew this would be the best part of my stay. The welcoming art of Davy and Christa, the very nice accommodation, the Braai evenings (and the best freshly baked bread I ate in my life) and the excellent Neuras Wine made me feel at home.  All of this set in a wonderful area… I knew then why I had come back to Namibia. And I learned a lot, as every day was full with activities; tracking Cheetahs and Leopards, setting camera traps, being able to identify tracks, and transforming into a real hiker. Hiking in a riverbed, hiking to the top of a mountain, hiking through the desert… in 10 days I hiked more then ever before in my life, but I also saw one of the most beautiful landscapes, completely untouched. I feel very privileged I had the chance to experience this project … thank you Stu, and thanks to the best group ever: Lucy, Tracy and Auvrie. I will not forget you!!

Anouk, Luxemborg, aged 33 (Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project )

Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project

We would really recommend NamibRand to anyone with an interest in wildlife research. It allows you to see another aspect of wildlife conservation with the added bonus of stunning views. Learning to track big cats is an experience you'll never forget, as well as seeing so many animals in their natural habitats. We had an amazing time and would really encourage others to go to NamibRand too.

Sophie and Izzy, UK, aged (Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project )

Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project

We didn't really know what to expect when we signed up for ten days of carnivore research in the private nature reserve of NamibRand, in the South of Namibia. After nearly six hours in a car, packed full of supplies, four volunteers plus our driver, we finally reached our destination and suddenly realised what it was all about.

Stunned by the fantastic landscape - wide yellow plains, dry riverines and red mountains - we got to know our coordinators, German biologists and researchers, Christine and Lars. Since August they have been operating the carnivore programme and introduce volunteers to the activities of carnivore researchers. They are keeping an eye on the collared cheetahs and leopards that have been released in NamibRand so far, tracking them to find out about their home ranges and behaviour. They are hoping to prove that the animals will stay in the private nature reserve and don't go on to farmland to kill livestock.

We soon found out that a researcher's day usually starts very early - even the sun was still asleep! Every day we travelled in the car to try and find signals from the radio collars of the various cheetah and leopard which have been released over the last 18 months. This meant climbing up steep mountains, amazing dunes or exhilarating walks over gravel, stones, bush grass and sand. But each time, a fantastic view and the feeling of being part of something so worthwhile made us forget about the hard work. We were lucky enough to find the five male cheetahs which the Cheetah Conservation Fund had released some six months earlier; twice we saw them devouring their breakfast! Being able to observe their behaviour and eating habits in their new environment made sure that most days were once-in-a-lifetime experiences that none of us will forget. 

During our days out we also got to see: oryx, springbok, vultures, kudu, zebra, bat-eared foxes, cape foxes, jackals, porcupines, pole cats, a spotted hyena and - very importantly - NO snakes.

We also learnt about entering research data, processing it to form maps showing the animals' home ranges, doing night observations and cooking meals out of very few ingredients - something Lars is an expert at! He and Christine never lost their patience explaining the animals to us and introducing us to every aspect of a researcher's life. We really enjoyed our stay with the people, the animals and the landscape. We will never forget it  and hopefully we will all come back one day. The animals and the semi-desert are definitely worth it!

Pila, Barbara, Georgie, Steff, Germany, aged 20 (Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project )

Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project

I feel I must add that I have done a good deal of travelling over the years, albeit never in Africa. So this Continent is a first for me, but I have been very impressed by the professional way that Amanzi Travel have dealt with all my arrangements and enquiries. I do recognise how busy you must be, however, you have always been accessible and have answered any queries I may have had, which is much appreciated. I would highly recommend your company. It's been an excellent trip.

Terry, UK, aged 54 (Tanzanian Game Parks and Zanzibar - 10 Days, Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project , Namibia South - 7 days (Southbound), Tanzanian Game Parks and Zanzibar - 10 days, Namibia South - 7 Days (Northbound), Naankuse Wildlife Sanctuary)


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